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27th March 2015
Make believe magic
Title of film: Little 'P'
Director: Péter Vácz
Peter Vácz completely charmed us with his story-telling and animation in his Rabbit and Deer film which picked up trillions of festival awards - see the full-length now online in Related Content - as well as his tale of loss and regret for James. 1.4 also found a treasure trove of earlier work when we met up with the young director now signed to Picasso Pictures

Can you describe your childhood in Budapest please?

I had a lovely childhood in a big house with two brothers a sister and some pets around. Our parents were loving and supporting and fortunately I had the chance to do sports and play the cello. As I grew up music has always been an important part of my life.

So you speak English really well?

I can and I love the language. It’s the only way for me to travel and get to know new people. My mother is a great English teacher so that also inspired me to learn it well.

Where are you based now?

In Berlin. My sister decided to move here and asked if I wanted to join… Well, I did. I needed a change of scenery and it seemed a good idea (even though I’ve never been here before).

When and how did you discover your love for stop-frame?

At uni when I was 19. I was studying graphic design and there was a puppet animation course that I participated in. Then the magic happened and I changed faculty…

How did you became so versed in 2D and 3D animation?

Well, I studied animation for five years… At MOME they teach all sorts of techniques; 2D, 3D, stop-mo – a bit of everything. I also had the chance to do a professional 3D character animation course at The Animation Workshop in Viborg and an instructive work experience at Géza M. Toth’s animation studio (Kedd) animating ‘match sticks’.

Please tell us about your process for creating narratives – we love your animation techniques but your story-telling also takes us on an un-cliched imaginative ride. Do you write down scripts or illustrate sequences from an initial idea, or …?

I like to think more in images than writing. It’s easy if I already have a poem, music lyrics or a short story to adopt then I ‘just’ have to create the visual world and its characters. Quite often I just close my eyes and use my imagination to feel the characters’ emotions and how they would behave in different situations.

Do you storyboard your films meticulously or do they evolve as you work?

I do both. For the more narrative and character based animations like Rabbit and Deer I make detailed storyboards but for poems and more abstract films like Streamschool and All I’m Saying I leave myself more space to improvise. That way I can be more inventive and enjoy the moment of creation.

Do you actually make the models too – how did your love for model-making evolve? How do you make the decision on which materials to use? And what comes first, the materials or the story?

I usually try to make everything by myself or at least be involved in every aspect of making a film (imagery, puppets, sets, sound, music, etc…). I’m a bit like a craftsman or handyman so I really enjoy sculpting, tinkering and working with materials too.

Do you work in silence or do you listen to music? Where are you happiest working?

When it’s about putting down the corner stones of a new project I need silence to be able to focus. Once things are going smooth I like to listen to music. I’m happiest working surrounded by tools and materials like in a workshop – a place of many possibilities.

Does it take a crazy amount of time shooting stop-frame? Is there a certain point when you stop for the day or should I say night?

I don’t think stop-frame is more painstaking than any other form of animation. It always depends on the complexity of the style. As for shooting I prefer to finish a shot in one go but it happens from time to time that I stop for the night and continue next day if it’s a longer take. I try to avoid late night working.

Your characters, whether it’s a 2D deer or rabbit or a 3D Foxy character in your music video for James, All I’m saying, are imbued with a strong emotional language in their movements. Was it simply life situations you have drawn on to express body language?

So far I mainly explored the audio-visual side of filmmaking (stories without dialogues) just like Charlie Chaplin. We have an infinite vocabulary of body language which is way more universal than English or other spoken languages… Our emotions are being expressed with every gesture we make, I just try to pay attention to that.

What part of the process do you like the best?

Everything that inspires and challenges me at the same time.

Did you work closely with James to develop the narration and style of the video, or were you given free creative reign? What were the considerations you had to think about in pre-production?

Fortunately I had a lot of trust, freedom and personal support. I was in Skype contact with Tim Booth (writer and singer of James) the whole time and his only wish was that I should try to find another main character instead of a mexican painted skeleton figure I came up with as a first idea. That’s how I found the wolf masked man. Tim also helped me to find the ending of the ‘story’ as I was shooting the film.

Are you musical too? What was your process for timing your stop-frame with the music in All I’m Saying?

Yes, I like writing songs too from time to time. I made the music video’s structure based on the song’s verses and timing which gave me 12 equal sections to plan with.

What are the key lessons you’ve learnt from making these films?

That films with good stories can have a big effect on our lives. They can inspire us in many ways.

What’s the wisest advice anyone has given you about filmmaking?

Once I was animating one of Géza M. Toth’s short as a fresh animator when he drew me this simple formula on a paper to explain the importance of overlapping the consecutive actions. It’s one of the most useful formulas for good storytelling.
(a –> b) (e –> f)
(c –> d) (g –> …

After two years of Rabbit and Deer being one of the most loved animated films on the international festival circuit – winning hundreds of awards – you are now signed to Picasso Pictures in London. What would be your dream job?

To have further opportunities to direct great work and to one day write and direct a feature film!

Roll through Related Content to see more work and production stills


Peter’s bloodspot on making Rabbit and Deer here

Picasso Pictures


James, All I'm Saying

Director: Péter Vácz

Producer: Sam Hope
Produced by: Picasso Pictures
Animation: Péter Vácz

Special thanks to:
Tim Booth
Mette Ilene Holmriis
Rózsa Vácz
& Mahdi Khene